The Benefits of Risky Science

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


When scientists choose research projects that have the highest expected value, an externality can appear. Slight variations on the existing work will be selected in preference to new lines of research that can, when followed up selectively, generate more expected value over time. New research enjoys two advantages: it is riskier and hence more likely to lead to high-value follow-up projects and it can generate more follow-up projects. Several cures for the externality are analysed: less communication among scientists, markets for the right to undertake follow-up projects and the pursuit of citations rather than expected value as a goal for scientists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1495–1526
Number of pages32
JournalThe Economic Journal
Issue number603
Early online date10 Jun 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

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